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State v. Ducker

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee
1999 WL 160981 (1999)


Facts

During the night, Jennie Ducker (defendant) took her two children, aged 13 months and 23 months, with her to a local hotel. Ducker left the children in the car, strapped in their car seats, with the windows closed and doors locked while she went into the hotel to visit her boyfriend. Ducker did not return to her vehicle to check on the children until after noon the following day, over nine hours after leaving the children in the car. Although Ducker took the children to the hospital and sought treatment for dehydration, the children had already died of hyperthermia. A doctor explained that the children died sometime between six o’clock and noon and that by noon, the temperature inside the car would have been more than 120 degrees. Ducker was indicted for two counts of first-degree murder, but was ultimately convicted of two counts of the lesser offense of aggravated child abuse. Ducker appealed on the ground that the trial court did not properly instruct the jury on the definition of “knowingly,” as the term applied to the different elements of the offense of aggravated child abuse.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hayes, J.)

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